Album Review: Frozen Crown – ‘The Fallen King’

Today we’ve a very special review for you here at Metal Nexus which concerns a group that are more-than-likely virtually unknown to the vast majority of our most avid readers at this precise point in time but are more than certain to achieve high bursts of success and international acclaim in the years to come. Frozen Crown aren’t a name you’ve heard before but will most definitely hear a lot more of very soon. They are a self-categorized ‘Melodic Power Metal’ group that fuses high imagery, orchestral textures, operatic vocals and storming rates of velocity. The group consists of chief songwriter Federico Mondelli (Be The Wolf) on guitars, vocals and keyboards alongside frontwoman Giada Etro (Ashes You Leave, Tystnaden). Completing the ensemble is the miraculously gifted seventeen-year old female guitarist Talia Bellazecca, bass guitarist Filippo Zavattari and high-voltage drummer Alberto Mezzanotte. Their debut album ‘The Fallen King’ is scheduled for release via Scarlet Records on 9 February 2018 and will no doubt be of interest to huge devotees of up-and-coming metal acts but it is also more than likely to raise eyebrows from those whose interest in such blossoming movements would have previously been very minimal. 

Starting with a figurative bang, ‘Fail No More’ is an unstoppable force of energy, speed and rhythmic precision. It’s exactly what I myself personally find entrancing in groups such as themselves but they manage to pull it off better than the vast majority. Symphonic keyboard lines are prevalent yet the group are firm to assert such instrumentation is only utilized for the purpose of versatility and coloration. The perennially smooth interplay between the two vocalists is a pivotal factor to the group’s identity and offers a real sense of complementation to themselves respectively and of course the supporting musicians. It also becomes very clear even at the brink of this first track that the group are keen to exercise their technicality muscles with a wide range of guitar-playing styles showcased here. ‘To Infinity’ is a much-needed contrast from the speed of the previous track and is a very lovely mid-tempo track at the basis of its heart. The song is highly sensitive in nature with its delicate interplay of harmonic invention. Keyboard lines here are a tad less bombastic and more organic, too. The chorus is memorable as always and the track implants itself in the brain very quickly after its cessation; particularly as there’s a very sophisticated key-change towards the end to emphasise the triumphant nature of the song and it really gives the whole album a “lift”, psychologically speaking. ‘Kings’, as expected, regains the pace yet again and it really impressed me as to how structurally-conscious the group are in terms of arranging the track listing. I could foresee what was coming each time and I found that really impressive as many groups tend to get the balance wrong. I’d say it takes a longer time to settle in to itself in comparison to the other songs but that certainly doesn’t render it as “weak”, – it’s just not as immediate due to its lack of a major hook. ‘I Am The Tyrant’ begins as an electronic-driven spiralling of melodies before it slots itself into the now-quintessential sound of the band. There’s sections of the track which are in 3/4, vocal-harmonization is at its ubiquitous peak here and there’s even some growling moments, too, which is an interesting inclusion as there’s moments of this particular track where you hear the group at their most “mellow”, comparatively.  If this were in conventional record format I’d view ‘The Shieldmaiden’ as the appropriate closing-track for Side One. It is the longest track of the ten and is, much akin to the previous track, very keyboard-driven at the beginning before it bursts into excursions of fast verses, occasional growling vocals and the like. Towards the end there’s a lovely odd-time signature thing which I myself found difficult to decipher, – it may very be well in 4/4 but they manage to disguise it very well with unorthodox accentuations. The track ends on a rather pessimistic chord which would summon just about anybody to flip the record over..

“Side Two”, or the album’s second half, rather, begins with ‘Chasing Lights’ which yet again exhibits the group’s more sensitive side. The lead guitar work throughout the record isn’t overtly mechanical or robotic. There are indeed moments of shred and fast-paced arpeggios but they don’t take those moments for granted. This song is a perfect example of how they like to let the notes breathe through the music. It’s a ballad-esque piece which is notable for its delay of introducing the vocals until the song reaches its mid-point. The song doesn’t feature percussion at all, – instead relying upon atmospheric synth-strings and ethereal pads to accompany the yearning vocal melodies. The song segues, in fact, into ‘Queen of Blades’ which does continue the melodic theme of the previous track yet is keen to introduce the growling / screaming vocals once more. A mid-tempo song is the best way to describe it and it’s actually a real foot-tapper that would go down very well on the rock charts. Its middle section is heavy, dynamic, almost quasi-Djent (although I’ve come to despise the term) and it features a lot of precise double-bass patterns. ‘Across the Sea’ is a song that immediately emanates a “cold” atmosphere, – whether that’s something to do with the oceanic lyricism or the mystical strings is something I’m still not 100% sure about. It’s probably one of the best songs on the album in fact. Plunging deeper into the cold theme with ‘Everwinter’, the titular quality of the track is enough to send shivers down the spine, – particularly in these Winter months! The song is a nice thumping one and it’s another foot-tapper. It also features perhaps the most impressive guitar-work on the record with a lot of neo-classical scales to be heard alongside intermittent beatings of the snare in mathematical prowess. Final track ‘Netherstorm’ is incidentally the heaviest vocal-wise and perhaps production-wise too, which gives one the idea that this was the impression they were trying to leave upon one’s departure with the album. Percussion-wise, it’s a real pounding piece in the middle where there’s one particular section where the repeated hitting of the snare almost gave me a headache! (In the nicest possible way, of course.) 

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